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15 May, 2024 19:45

US claims Ukraine can decide about talks with Russia

The American Secretary of State has pinned the blame on Moscow for the inability to find a peaceful solution to the conflict
US claims Ukraine can decide about talks with Russia

Ukraine will decide for itself when to start peace talks with Russia, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told journalists in Kiev on Wednesday. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has signed legislation making it impossible for him to speak with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Blinken was speaking at a joint press conference alongside Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba. When asked whether it would be “desirable” for Ukraine to start “negotiating an end to this war before the end of this year,” he replied it was up to Kiev to take such a step.

“In terms of negotiations, these, again, are decisions for Ukraine to make, not the United States or not any other country,” Blinken said. “Fundamentally, these are questions for Ukraine to answer. We’ve been very clear… we support Ukraine in its decisions,” he said.

America’s top diplomat blamed Russia for an absence of attempts to resolve the conflict peacefully. “If [Russian President Vladimir] Putin showed any interest in seriously engaging in negotiations, I’m sure Ukrainians would respond to that,” Blinken asserted, claiming that what Moscow was “demonstrating every single day is exactly the opposite.”

Russia has stated throughout the conflict that it is ready for peace talks at any moment as long as the reality on the ground is taken into account. In autumn 2022, four former Ukrainian territories, including the two Donbass republics as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye regions, officially joined Russia following a series of referendums.

Kiev has never recognized those results, calling them a “sham.” It also continues to lay claim to all four regions, as well as the Crimean peninsula, which joined Russia following an earlier referendum in 2014 in the wake of the Maidan coup.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky barred himself from talking to the current Russian leadership with a decree he signed in autumn 2022. Instead, Kiev has been advocating what it terms the ‘Zelensky peace formula’. The plan calls for a complete withdrawal of Russian forces from all territories Ukraine considers its own before the start of any peace talks. It also demands Moscow pay reparations and a war crimes tribunal be established.

Russia has rejected the proposals as “unrealistic” and called them a sign of Kiev’s unwillingness to seek a diplomatic solution. It also called any discussions based on this plan a “parody of negotiation.”

Moscow “has no one to talk to” about the settlement of the Ukraine conflict because no one in the US or EU leadership is ready for a “serious” dialogue, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier in May.

Western leaders have reportedly not always been strictly neutral on the subject of negotiations. Last November, Ukrainian MP David Arakhamia told domestic media that former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had intervened in the peace process, urging the Ukrainians to “just fight” Russia. The lawmaker was referencing a series of talks held by the two sides in Belarus and Türkiye in spring 2022. Arakhamia was led Kiev’s delegation at those negotiations.

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